I have been saying that this is the best new series to come around in some time and this issue proved me to be correct. Jonathan Hickman has the makings of a masterpiece in his hands and I can only hope that he follows through on the promise of these first couple of issues. We get to formally meet Death's wife, Xiaolian, who also happens to be the sister of one of The Chosen. The circumstances of her detainment are explained and we get the opportunity to see her battle against the horsemen, albeit a very brief glimpse. With each new chapter, Jonathan Hickman continually feeds us new information and adds new layers to his characters, as well as making us ask new questions that will keep us reading well into the future. It is also an accomplishment that the two main storylines in the series do not seem neglected, they are both showcased for the proper amount of time to leave some mystery.
There is the running theme that love is a very powerful force and one that The Chosen and the Horsemen are desperately trying to stop. Death is motivated to be reunited with his wife at all cost and does not care who he has to kill to get to her. Originally, I thought that his quest was going to be solely focused on taking revenge on the people who wronged him, but now we know that he is partially motivated out of love for his wife. We also find out that Death's companions are also in love and are apparently from two separate tribes (Wolves and Crows?). I am really intrigued by their characters and would love to get more info on them as the storylines progress. Xiaolian's father, Mao V, also had to make a deal with The Chosen to keep his daughter alive and in the process put his kingdom in jeopardy. It seems like we have love on one side (Death and Xiaolian) and Hate on the other (The Horsemen and The Chosen), and the ensuing struggle between the two sides will be the main focus of the series.
I love everything about this series to this point, the characters are wonderfully crafted, the story is intriguing, and the art is phenomenal. There is one panel in particular, when the Horsemen attack Xiaolian, that is simply incredible (posted the image at the top of the article. The colors are great, the character design is creative, and the action is brutal. What more could you ask for? The only thing that I am worried about with the series is that when the main conflict comes to an end, where will the series go from there. I know that I am getting way ahead of myself but that is the way that I typically think. I am 100% on board for this series and it is going to take a hell of a lot to get me to stop reading this one. Next month cannot come soon enough, I really need to have chapter 4 in my hands, right now.
If you are a comic fan, this is one series that you absolutely must be reading. There is no bulky continuity to deal with and it is a story that is only three issues deep, so there is no excuses for not reading this. Go to your local comic shop and pick it up, I promise that you will not be disappointed. East of West is one of the rare series that I want to read the next issue immediately after I finish the newest installment and I am really looking forward to #4.